Jade Goh of The Mind Faculty shares her expert advice.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that things don’t go according to plan. The uncertainty has caused us more stress and anxiety, which has made it hard to feel hopeful for the new year. Although it seems like nothing is going to change anytime soon, we can still look forward to having a fresh start in January by practicing gratitude.
Gratitude can help plant the seeds for hope in 2021. Start by making a list of things you are grateful for this past year. Did you get to spend more time with your family, learn a new skill or have more time to relax? Think of what you can bring into the new year. By taking the time to focus on the good things that have happened, you’ll find yourself feeling more optimistic about the upcoming year!
However, it can still be hard to muster up the motivation to make New Year’s resolutions. There are two parts to feeling motivated. Firstly, you need to have something that you want to achieve, and for the second part, you need to know that there is a way to achieve this.
We may feel unmotivated to make resolutions, such as lose a certain amount of weight if we feel that our plans have been derailed by gym closures. When dealing with uncertainty and stress, we need to distinguish between what we can and can’t control.
We only have control over our actions. Instead of focusing on the destination, make resolutions about the journey. For example, instead of “I want to lose 5 kgs before February”, say “I want to move my body 20 minutes a day”. Moving your body could be walking up and down the stairs at your apartment complex, or following an exercise video on Youtube.
Don’t pressure yourself to achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Stress triggers the automatic habitual behaviour we’ve established over the years. You may find yourself retreating back to your comfort zone more easily. This is where mindfulness comes into play.
Mindfulness focuses on what really matters, and helps us stay on track or get back on track. By becoming more aware of our internal state, and the feelings that drive our behaviour, we’ll be able to make mindful choices towards more helpful behaviour.
Having goals is important as it helps us know where we are going. However, it’s equally important for us to manage our expectations – if we set them too high, we may feel discouraged.
What is digital wellness?
Everyone knows that taking care of your physical health is important, but what about your online life? We’re spending more and more time connected to the internet in some way or the other, from watching Netflix on your smart-tv, tracking your steps with a Fitbit or even sending messages through WhatsApp—seriously when was the last time you sent an SMS or (gasp) made a phone call?
At first glance, digital wellness might seem like something to do with device health—using secured sites, changing passwords frequently, avoiding suspicious downloads and links; you know the drill. But in actuality, it refers to keeping a balance of your mind and sense of self as you navigate the online world.
Why is this important?
It’s no secret that social media can affect your self-esteem. Studies have shown that viewing and engaging in the seemingly perfect lives that your friends and celebrities display, can negatively influence how you view yourself. The way that these social interaction apps are structured to emphasise views and other engagements doesn’t help either, especially when your ‘likes’ can’t stack up to those you follow.
In a similar vein, this may lead to feeling increased stress and anxiety when you don’t seem to measure up. The need to constantly create content to stay relevant—even if it is for a hobby; can take its toll. The same can be said of keeping up with world issues. In such tumultuous times, feelings of guilt and exhaustion at what seems to be a continuous stream of bad news is common and understandable.
What can you do?
Limit the time spent on social media. Yup, this might seem daunting. Try this: instead of mindlessly scrolling through your Twitter or Instagram feeds for hours on end, set yourself a time to check up on things.
Mindfulness—like its name suggests, is being aware in a purposeful way, of your intentions and surroundings. Using its techniques can help your online life in a positive way, for example: cleaning up your feeds. Curating your own experience is important, choosing to unfollow and mute accounts that cause you to feel stress will make your days better.
Self-care isn’t just taking care of yourself physically, but also making sure you’re alright mentally—and in this case; digitally. Don’t feel bad about taking a step back to breathe. By setting boundaries when you use your devices, you’ll be able to develop and maintain a healthier and more fulfilling relationship with social media.